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Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Sunday, August 3, 2014
Performers TBA

Peter Duggan and Charles Yang

PIANO SONOMA JAMS IN FINAL WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 3, 2014

PianoSonoma concluded its artist-in-residence performances August 3 in a sparkling Weill Hall concert where mostly new music overshadowed conventional fare.

Mendelssohn’s popular D Minor Trio began the program in a workmanlike performance that never quite caught fire. Tempos throughout were judicious, supported by the warm bottom register of cellist Julian Schwartz, and pianist David Aladashvili’s legato scale passages were, as usual for chamber music in Weill, often indistinct.

The lyrical Andante was lovely with fetching piano duos with violinist Yevgeny Kutik, the latter’s sound having pitch problems and a thin treble tone. The Scherzo was lively and the headlong rush of the finale well controlled. It was trio playing that was light on thematic projection and rubato but deserved the loud applause from the audience of 300.

A seven-section Thomas Cabaniss work, “Movements for Tiny Bits of Outrageous Love,” was boisterously played four hands from score by PianoSonoma directors Jessica and Michael Shinn. In his pre-performance remarks, Mr. Shinn asked the audience to make connections between the work’s witty titles and their own lives. Virtuosity was on display in every piece, from the quotidian “One and One” through “Flutter Flutter” (long shimmering trills and tremolos) and the new age and minimalist “Love Song.” In the nocturne-like “Respite” there was an air of nostalgic Brahms that quickly moved to a brief toccata and a charming slow waltz.

The only astringency was “Crossings,” wild at times with each pianist crossing both hands and making verbal shouts and looks of feigned surprise. The “Two” finale had relaxed playing with a deft rise and fall of phrase. Here the control of dynamics was perfect and the playing was justly received with one of the afternoon’s many ovations. What a showpiece “Movements” is!

A local premiere followed, composer-in-residence Paul Frucht’s unnamed piece for two pianos. Peter Duggan and Mr. Aladashvili played it wonderfully. At turns percussive, rumbling and busy, Mr. Frucht (in the audience and shouting “bravos” at the end) has written a work with cascades of notes and some inside-the-piano string plucking. The artists made the most of the short lyrical sections amid the raucous grand sweep that grew inexorably to a powerful conclusion.

Violinist Charles Yang and Mr. Duggan concluded the program with Ravel’s exciting Tzigane, the long solo violin introductory passage carrying clearly in the hall. Though sporadically clipping off phrase endings. Mr. Yang took his time in the 1924 piece, eschewing the often seen flamboyant body motions for lithe leaning into the gypsy harmonics and rhythms. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies (6, 9 and 12) for piano seemingly were models for this impassioned work. Both artists played off the other’s energy and conveyed a bit of menace in the scintillating score, a staple for virtuosi. The string pizzicato was convincingly forceful, as were Mr. Duggan’s even trills and athletic right hand skips. The acceleration of the coda to presto was dramatic.

Speaking of skips, after an unprogrammed five-minute piano-violin jam session that finished the concert to a standing ovation, Mr. Yang skipped off the stage with a full cartwheel.

PianoSonoma’s final concert was a cheerful event with serious and genial music captivatingly played.